Long, long time ago, in the days when the earth was still soft…that’s how many stories and legends from my childhood began. It didn’t take me to long to decidenot to take the phrase literally; it was simply an expression of the length of time that has elapsed since events took place.
The problem with this scenario was the imprint of a giant human foot on a large flat rock that on Tshufi hill outside Phokeng (where I grew up). We called it Ralelatlha’s Foot (the Coalman’s foot).
There are no stories I know of, of how the foot came to be there. No superstitions, no mentions of badimo (ancestors), no giant people (aka Big Foot), no nothing.
There are many legends associated with the hill. For example, it is said that if you go to special site form mid-day till one, you’ll find it populated. The people who reputedly appear look normal, have normal homes and go about mundane village chores. You may well find families sitting enjoying lunch under a cooling tree shade, people said.
My friends and I found the idea of a hidden community in the hills rather spooky. (It was before TV was introduced to SA and we had no idea what sci-fi was, so there were no thoughts of Mr Spock beaming in and out!)
We never had the courage to check out the (de) materialising community. But we did visit the site where Ralelatlha’s Foot is.
I was a bit disappointed: shrubs, small stones and accumulated dust, obscure the flat rock. Soil erosion has faded most of the imprint, so it’s difficult to tell whether it’s really an imprint of a foot or a shape that evolved and by chance could be mistaken for a foot.
Still, the legend lingers in my mind. One of these days I’m going to write a story about it. However, I want to escape clichéd stories about the lonely giant/big foot hurt by humans, giant feeds of village children/livestock until they get fed up and kill him and humans hunt and kill the last member of a race of giants. Story ideas are welcome.